August 8, 2007
We arrived here with the notion of staying just a few days, but unfortunately that became nearly a week. Sam and I met a Laotian, a man named was Kern, and his idea to have a good time was to drink every night, with his friends. There was a distinct formula to the proceedings: we would start at a roof-top bar called Baw Pen Nyang (translation: ‘no problem’), then a disco at a flash hotel to about 3am. This repeated several nights in a row, which caused us to get stuck. Otherwise we did a complete sight seeing route in this fairly laid back city.
The “sights” in Vientiane are located over quite a small area, so we started at Patuxai, Vientiane’s attempt at replicating the Arch de Triomphe.Sam and I went to the top of the structure.The weather was not good and the view was a little uninspiring considering. There’s only so much you can get out of a concrete replica of the Arch de Triomphe unfortunately. We carried on walking to the Talat Sao or morning market (so named despite being open all day). It was extensive; aisles and aisles of handicrafts to purchase.
Then we decided to try and fit in the rest of the sights as per the Lonely Planet suggestions. Next stop was Wat Si Saket and we made it there without incident. Very glad we went in, because of the beautiful temple (the oldest in Vientiane) with a surrounding cloister, the walls of which hold 2000 small silver and ceramic buddha images.
Afterwards Sam and I decided to go for a walk along the Mekong. We skipped several temples along the way. From the outside they looked the same as all the temples we had seen previously in Thailand so we didn’t bother looking in.We found a nice bar (called the Mekong Bar) and had a meal and stayed there for a few hours.
Birds eye view of the park One excursion took us to the Buddha park which was located about 15 kilometres out from the city. The roads were in terrible condition as out tuk-tuk driver swerved around large pot holes at a slow speed. There was no one else there at the park, so we wandered around freely for an hour or so. After the Buddha Park we stopped at Pha That Luang. This is an impressive gold monument and the national symbol of Laos. We strolled around the grounds and had a tried to look inside the adjacent Wat That Luang Neua (the Golden Stupa). But again we were denied as they had shut for the day.
Of other notable events, we did see traditional Lao dancing. Unfortunately I was ignorant to all story behind the dancing so I could not appreciate it any further than what I could see: body movements and the music. At the end they got everyone up from the audience, including me, and we tried our best to Lao dance. I felt sorry for the girl that had picked me.
With time flying we decided we had wasted enough time in Vientiane. We caught a overnight bus down to Pakse to get us back into the wilderness.
The 9 hour bus was not enjoyable, but we did manage to get some sleep.